Ayurveda Basics: Qualities of Kapha
The ancient healing system of Ayurveda provides us with the opportunity to take responsibility for our own healing.
One method is by allowing us to recognize when imbalances manifest, catch them early in the disease process, and then take the necessary steps to prevent future spread of the illness. We can notice these imbalances (vikruti) by gauging how certain qualities (gunas) manifest both qualitatively and quantitatively within us.
Kapha dosha is comprised of the elements water (jala) and earth (prithvi). It is the energy of structure and lubrication. Let’s examine the qualities of Kapha dosha.
The ancient Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hrdayam describes the qualities of Kapha:
“Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah”
Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static.
Kapha is unctuous or oily (snigdha). Fatty, fried foods aggravate Kapha dosha. Kapha people can also have oily hair and skin. The oily quality helps provide keep joints well lubricated. Oily is an expression of emollience; the counter-part to this is the dry quality associated with Vata dosha.
Heavy (guru) is another one of the qualities of Kapha dosha. Heaviness is an expression of density. Kapha is anabolic; it builds up. This can manifest as heavy bones and a wide body frame. Kaphas tend to be 10-20 pounds overweight.
They are deep sleepers. Kapha people often have mental heaviness in the morning and need caffeine to get them going. They can also have a heavy voice.
The flip side of this heavy quality is the subtleness we correlate with Vata dosha. In Vedic astrology, or Jyotish, the planet Jupiter is called Guru, partially because of the great mass of the planet. Take Kapha balancing supplements to help you reduce this heavy quality.
One of the better known qualities of Kapha dosha is slow (manda). Kapha people are slow to walk, slow to talk, and have slow digestion (manda agni). Consequently, this can lead to a sluggish thyroid. They take their time in making changes and prefer to stick to their routines.
Smooth (slakshna) is an attribute of Kapha dosha. These individuals have smooth skin. This smooth quality also provides internal lubrication and prevents bone and joint problems. They are usually soft-spoken, warm-hearted, caring people.
Along the same line, soft (mrudu) is another of the qualities of Kapha dosha. This is in opposition to the rough quality of Vata. Kapha people have soft skin. They also are very kind and have a soft heart, allowing them to be very compassionate. Soft is measured in terms of rigidity, with hard being at the other end of the continuum.
Kapha is cool (shita). They usually have skin that is cool to the touch. They can also be “cool as a cucumber” and are not easily ruffled. They can also experience recurrent cases of cold, congestion, and cough, especially during Kapha season (spring).
Ayurveda operates on the axiom that “like increases like.” Thus, cold foods like ice cream and chilled drinks will aggravate Kapha dosha. Taking an Ayurvedic bronchial syrup will help alleviate some of these issues.
Another evident quality of Kapha dosha is static (sthira). Kapha dominant individuals love routines. They resist change and can be stubborn at times. This is the antithesis to the mobile quality of Vata. They also do not like to be very active and can often be “couch potatoes”.
Kaphas enjoy eating the same foods, staying at a steady job, and vacationing at places they have frequented in the past. They dislike changing residences. With them, familiarity breeds content. Greed, attachment, and possessiveness are also attributed with this fixed quality of Kapha.
Causes of Kapha Imbalance
Kapha imbalances (vikruti) are due to poor dietary habits, bad food combining, toxins, slow digestion, and stuck emotions. To balance Kapha, avoid heavy, cold, oily, and sweet foods. Add Ayurvedic spices to your diet such as ginger powder or root, cinnamon powder or sticks, and turmeric. Exercise regularly and vary your routine. Make sure your diet is varied and does not consist of the same foods every day.
Begin balancing Kapha by utilizing a tongue cleaner daily, taking herbal supplements to balance Kapha and to improve your digestion. Do an oil massage before shower with Kapha massage oil. To best determine how to balance your vikruti, it is advisable to get a personalized Ayurvedic consultation and put yourself back on the road to health.